Date: Friday, 09 June 2017
Start: Camped by the trail at Mile 741.7, 9629 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 759.5, 9820 ft
Daily Miles: 17.8 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 759.5
Weather: Mild and sunny
Dinner: Rehydrated lasagne with meat sauce
Highlight: Experiencing the High Sierras with plenty of snow around.
Lowlight: None really
Pictures: Click here
Position: Click here
Map: Click here for Google Map
My German neighbours made sure I didn’t sleep in and I was away hiking at 6:30am, wondering what the day would have in store. I expected to know by nightfall just how hard it was going to be to hike through the High Sierras in early June after the biggest winter snowfall since 1985.
Well, they didn’t disappoint. It was a very hard day’s hiking, rewarded with fantastic views of snow-capped mountains and snowy forest landscapes. I soon realised that above 10000 ft, the northern slopes were going to be very hard going, as were any sheltered valleys that didn’t get much sun. The snow-covered trail was impossible to follow, even though people had been through in past days. The fact is that nobody really knows where the trail is under all of that snow, so people go different ways, and not necessarily the right way. The snow was often sloping and it wasn’t long before I had a fall, the first of many, though only one threatened any serious injury, and I survived it. Throughout the day, I lost the trail many times, and was constantly referring to my phone GPS and making corrections as necessary. It was very time consuming, to add to the slow going. Out of the forest, what looked like smooth snow from a distance, was snowcups, egg container-like dimples, often over a foot deep, and never a flat surface to walk on. Also very slow going.
My crampons had a brief baptism on one particularly snowy and steep ridge, but I didn’t need the ice axe, though I noticed a couple of other hikers (didn’t see many during the day) were using theirs. I had hopes of making 18 miles for the day, but didn’t quite make it, even though I was hiking until 7:00pm. At one point it took me two hours to cover 1.5 miles, so I’m happy enough with my progress.
Throughout the day, the scenery was magnificent, and I felt luck to be there, despite the fatigue. I frequently stopped to take in the landscapes (and to catch my breath). During the afternoon, I entered Sequioa National Park, another milestone. Tomorrow I have at least two major creek fords and I’m a bit nervous.